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Docs rarely talk nutrition: Poll

Does your doctor ever talk to you about nutrition or exercise? No? You’re not alone.

Polling shows that fewer than one-eighth of visits to physicians include any nutrition counseling and fewer than 25 percent of physicians believe they have sufficient training to talk to patients about diet or physical activity. And the number of hours devoted to teaching future physicians about nutrition in medical school has actually declined recently, from 22.3 in 2004 to 19.6 in 2009. The National Academy of Sciences says it should be 25 to 30 hours.

Meanwhile, a good number of physicians are overweight and don’t exercise regularly themselves.

This worrisome glimpse of one of the obstacles to addressing the U.S. obesity epidemic is contained in a comprehensive report scheduled for release Tuesday by a group of organizations that are calling for major changes in medical education and other aspects of the health care system to combat the chronic diseases that stem from our unhealthful lifestyle.

“We need to look at the nutrition of children in that first 1,000 days, from conception to the second birthday,” said Ann Veneman, former Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank founded by four former U.S. senators that produced the report.